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CM Told To Discuss With KL
January 10th, 2017 | 08:46 AM | 882 views
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman has been urged to discuss the new tax amendments that would affect the tax exempt status of religious bodies with the Federal Government.
Making this call was Deputy Finance Minister 1 Datuk Othman Aziz who said that the State Government should ask for further clarification on the amendment from the Federal Government on the matter if it is opposed to it. He added that he could not comment further on the matter although he understood Sabah and Sarawak’s disagreement on the issue.
Othman commented on the issue when he was asked by reporters after attending the 2017 national budget briefing with civil servants here yesterday.
The Chief Minister has expressed the State Government’s opposition to the amendment, stating that it viewed the matter seriously as some could misconstrue the move as being against all churches or non-Muslim religious organisations.
Musa said in his statement recently that in order to avoid unnecessary confusion and create distrust, the State Government did not agree with the move, citing that it could be detrimental to the religious peace and harmony that has prevailed all these while in Sabah.
He also promised that under his helm, the State Government would continue to uphold religious harmony among the ethnically diverse communities in Sabah.
His statement came following the Inland Revenue Board’s statement that all religious institutions or organisations qualify for tax exemptions, provided that their incomes are from donations and intended for religious activities.
The IRB said that the amendment to the Clause 13(1)(b) Schedule 6 of the Income Tax Act 1967 (Act 53) in Budget 2017 was to provide clarity of the law on the application of exemption to religious institutions or organisations.
The Sabah Council of Churches and other groups had also expressed their concerns over the amendment which they said would subject churches and other non-Muslim organisations to pay taxes which was against the spirit of rights of the people to practise their religious freedom.
Yesterday, Othman explained that the amendment to the tax exemption was to ensure that any donations received by the religious organisations were used solely for religious activities.
He added that there were parties who misuse the name of religious organisations to solicit donations and that the monies received were never channelled to the religious bodies.
“There may also be officers working for the organisation who are receiving maybe RM100,000 per year or more but are not declaring their income tax using the religious organisation as a camouflage,” he said.
He stressed that the amendment would ensure that no one could use religious bodies to solicit funds other than for worship purposes.
“This (law) encompasses all, even Muslim organisations. They collect funds and do not declare them. We have no idea what they use it for whether it is for personal use or others. That is the main philosophy of the matter,” he said.
courtesy of THE BORNEO POST
by Jenne Lajiun
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